Zoos SA
Zoos SA is a non-government conservation charity, every visit, adoption, donation and ticket helps to save species from extinction.

Darren Hastings

Director Corporate Services

Darren joined Zoos SA as Director, Corporate Services in August 2016. His responsibilities include financial and risk management, information technology, corporate policy development and strategic planning.

Darren has over 25 years’ experience in a range of finance and governance roles in varying industries including banking, public practice, manufacturing, aviation and international social development. Prior to joining Zoos SA, he was Chief Financial Officer for Scope Global where he oversaw financial compliance, risk mitigation, and contract management for the company’s Australian and overseas operations.

Darren has also held positions at Penrice Soda, Cobham Aviation Services, Hi-Fert and Bank SA. Darren has a Bachelor of Commerce and is a member of CPA Australia.

Darren is married and has a daughter who enjoys hearing about the sights and sounds experienced while working at the zoo. He enjoys travel and cycling, and is particularly fond of the otters.

I continue to be amazed at the commitment that each employee, volunteer and supporter shows in meeting the objectives of Zoos SA.“

Dr Phil Ainsley

Director Adelaide Zoo

Phil joined Zoos SA in 2013 as the Conservation Programs Manager working across both Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park, before moving into a Curator role overseeing conservation, birds, reptiles and native species and later as Director of Life Sciences. He was recently appointed as the Director of Adelaide Zoo.

Phil trained as a Bioengineer receiving degrees at both Flinders and Adelaide University, worked in the forestry industry in New Zealand before returning to Adelaide where he spent over ten years as a senior manager and conservation biologist with the Department of Environment and Water.

Phil was fortunate to grow up spending much time at Adelaide Zoo in the footsteps of his father who worked in the reptile section for nearly 20-years.  This fostered his passion and interest in reptiles and nature more broadly. A highlight has been re-establishing Zoos SA’s Pygmy Bluetongue conservation program which resulted in the first captive breeding of a species presumed extinct until 1992.

Phil is married and has three sons who all love spending time visiting both Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park. A family favourite is Aonika, Adelaide Zoo’s Aldabra Giant Tortoise.

“I am truly honoured to have the opportunity to lead the team at Adelaide Zoo, working with an amazing team of people and collection of animals. Every day I remind myself what a privilege this is. I look forward to seeing Zoos SA continue to develop, grow and strengthen its position as a leader in the zoo industry.”

Liz Williams

Director People and Performance

Liz joined Zoos SA in August 2023 bringing with her a wealth of experience in leading human resources strategies and operations and volunteer management. Prior to joining us Liz recently lead the People and Culture division of St John Ambulance SA and before that supported SA Health by managing the SA Government staff mobilisation emergency management program for Contact Tracing, Vaccination clinics, quarantine hotels and testing stations during the Covid pandemic. Liz’s career history is primarily based in the Not-for-Profit sector with managerial roles across human resources, volunteer management and corporate services for both Alzheimer’s Australia and the Australian Red Cross.

Liz is passionate about organisational culture and staff engagement and will continue to develop the Zoos SA People Plan to ensure we develop and retain the skills and experience we need in our workforce to meet the current and future strategic and operational organisational goals, and have an environment where people are engaged and committed to our vision, mission and values.

Liz is married and has two German Shorthaired Pointers; she is a keen photographer and loves to spend her relaxation time at the beach with her camera and dogs. She is dedicated to the Zoos conservation programs and has a special love of the big cats.

Elaine Bensted

Chief Executive

Elaine Bensted is Chief Executive of Zoos SA which operates both Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park and has been in this role since September 2012. Elaine reports to the Zoos SA Board, elected by members of the society, and is supported by a strong senior management team.

Prior to her appointment as Chief Executive, Elaine held the position of Chief Executive for TAFE SA and preceding this held senior roles in both state and local government.  Elaine has also worked in the private finance sector, within human resources and training management, operation and project management and bank branch manager roles.

Elaine’s qualifications include an MBA and a Masters in Public Policy and Management.  Elaine also holds qualifications in accounting and finance.

Outside of her work with Zoos SA, Elaine is also Vice President of Zoos & Aquarium Association (ZAA) and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, Board member of Children’s University Advisory Board, Uni SA Business School Program Advisory Board, The Australian Rhino Project Board, International Koala Centre of Excellence Advisory Board, World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) Membership & Ethics Committee and the Treasurer, Board member of the Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland Board and Environment Institute Advisory Board.

Elaine is married with an adult daughter and is the proud long-time owner of German Shepherd Dogs.

I see it as a privilege, honour and huge responsibility to lead such an iconic organisation which is delivering on such a critical mission.  I enjoy working with immensely passionate staff and volunteers in an amazing work environment with a lot  of opportunities for “wow” moments that no other job could ever provide”

Peter Clark

Director Monarto Safari Park

Director Monarto Safari Park, Peter Clark first joined Zoos SA in 2003 and now oversees the management of Zoos SA’s open range zoo at Monarto some 70km east of Adelaide.

Peter has over 35 years of wildlife experience, with his previous roles including working with zoos, wildlife businesses, conservation and environmental education in Papua New Guinea.

Peter attended Roseworthy College and has had considerable community involvement over his working years, including Rotary and various community, conservation and sporting committees. He also serves on the IUCN’s Conservation and Planning Group and is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London

Peter is married with two daughters and five grandchildren and has a love of the sea, fishing, insects and Africa.  He is particularly passionate about rhinos and their conservation. He also has a particular soft spot for Hyenas.

“Looking to the future and making new and exciting projects happen.”

Sarah Brown

Director Community Engagement

Sarah Brown has been working with Zoos SA since 2006.  As the Director Community Engagement, Sarah’s responsibilities include visitor experience, tourism, marketing, fundraising and education.

Sarah has over 20 years experience in the not-for-profit and local government sector, having worked extensively in events, product development and customer service. Prior to joining Zoos SA, she was the Clare Valley Visitor Information Centre Manager. Sarah has also held positions for the Adelaide Festival Centre, ACHA Health Foundation, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and various local governments, while also holding a Bachelor of Social Science.

Sarah has worked and resided in regional areas throughout South Australia.

“It is such a dynamic place full of adventure and discovery, amazing staff, incredibly generous volunteers – to have the opportunity to be immersed in conservation action every day is very humbling. I have fond memories of the zoo as a child and it’s exciting to be part of it as an adult.”

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction. Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging. We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.

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